The popularity of beach volleyball has exploded over the last few years, making the quickest transition from an emerging sport to a championship sport in NCAA history.

Formerly called Sand Volleyball, Beach Volleyball became the 90th NCAA Championship Sport in January of 2015 with the first championship in May of 2016. The sport moved from Emerging status to Championship status in just four years and reflects the growth in interest and ability among girls and women in the sport. In 2015-16 over 60 four-year colleges, including all three NCAA divisions and several NAIA schools, and over 30 two-year colleges sponsored varsity programs. Almost 50% of collegiate beach programs have scholarship support that is separate from the dollars dedicated to their court team.

Born on the beaches of Santa Monica, California in the 1920s when families would gather at the beach to play volleyball, beach volleyball rapidly gained popularity in both the USA and Brazil where the game took off in the 1980s. Authorized by the International Volleyball Federation in 1987, the first World Championship took place in Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro. Beach volleyball was introduced to the world at the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona as a demonstration event and officially debuted at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics as an official sport. Since those games over 20 years ago, Beach Volleyball has expanded around the world, but the USA and Brazil remain at the forefront of the game.


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